The expansion of the Jupiter field from 80 to 85 games has resulted in more games played on Thursday, the opening day of the tournament. Whereas in most past WWBA World Championships there has been often only a single “Opening Night” game on the Roger Dean Stadium field, this year there are 15 games scheduled for the complex starting at 3 pm this afternoon.
The coaches for the participating teams do an outstanding job in general of listing their starting pitchers for each game of the championship (see each day’s schedule at http://www.worldwoodbat.com/TournamentSchedule.aspx?id=383). A quick look at today’s schedule reveals one marquee matchup and numerous other top level pitchers scheduled to take the mound.
The marquee matchup that has huge playoff implications and will also get the attention of huge numbers of scouts is the Royals Baseball Club/Ontario Blue Jays game on Blue #6 at 5:30.
The Royals are one of the most talented teams in Jupiter and a prime contender to win the championship. They will be starting RHP Robert Aviles, an Aflac All-American from New York.
The Blue Jays, frequent playoff participants at this and other top WWBA events, will counter with LHP Evan Grills, the top prospect in all of Canada and perhaps the top left hander in the 2010 draft class.
Both coaching staffs have obviously realized that this is as close to a must win game as exists and are throwing their best pitcher. Only the pool winners from each of the 17 pools of 5 teams will advance to the playoffs, so the winner of the Royals/Blue Jays game will be in the immediate driver’s seat in Pool I.
OTHER DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS
Many of the top teams use the first game of pool play to get a few innings for the pitchers that they plan on pitching in the playoffs on Sunday or Monday. It’s easy to see a couple of instances where this is happening.
East Cobb Baseball will be starting RHP John Magliozzi in their 8:15 pm game against Elite Baseball. Magliozzi is a 2011 grad and not physically imposing at 5-9, 170 lbs, but has an outstanding arm and an advanced ability to pitch. Expect lots of 90-92 mph fastballs and an outstanding change up if you will be at the Stadium tonight.
The SE Texas Sun Devils are pitching three solid pitching prospects, including hard throwing 2011 RHP Carson Baranik, against the East Coast PG Gray team in the 5:45 game at the Stadium. They better be on their games, as East Coast is throwing a couple of very talented right handers of their own in Pat Connaughton and Lucas Sims. Connaughton is a very interesting 6-5 prospect who was just “discovered” at the WWBA Underclass World Championships two weeks ago.
The Texas Scout Team Yankees are starting 2011 RHP Dylan Bundy in their first game against the Upstate Mavericks, also at 5:45. Bundy has one of the top fastballs in the country for any class and will likely be topping out in the 95-96 mph area, which could make him the hardest thrower at the event by the time it’s over.
The Orlando Scorpions, the Dirtbags, the Carolina Cyclones and Marucci Elite are among the other top teams playing this afternoon and this evening.